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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional
Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies

Fact Sheet Released by the Bureau of Nonproliferation
March 22, 2000, Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of State 
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        The Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) is the first global, multilateral arrangement covering both conventional weapons and sensitive dual-use goods and technologies. It succeeds COCOM, which was disbanded in 1994 after it became apparent that the Cold War's East-West export controls no longer were appropriate. The Gulf War however, showed that some global export controls still were needed and the Arrangement has significantly different goals and objectives than did COCOM.  The Wassenaar Arrangement received final approval by 33 co-founding countries in July 1996, and began operations in September 1996.

        The WA was designed to prevent destabilizing accumulations of arms and dual-use goods and technologies. The Arrangement encourages transparency, consultation and, where appropriate, national policies of restraint. In doing so, the WA fosters greater responsibility and accountability in transfers of arms and dual use goods and technologies. The Arrangement also provides a venue in which governments can consider collectively the implications of various transfers on their international and regional security interests. This is the principal security benefit of membership.

        WA members maintain export controls on the WA Munitions and Dual Use lists. These lists regularly are reviewed by experts of the Participating States and revised as needed. However, the decision to transfer or deny any controlled item remains the responsibility of individual member states. There are not, as there were in COCOM, case-by-case prior reviews of proposed exports to proscribed destinations, or vetoes on proposed exports. To facilitate meeting the WA's principal objective of preventing destabilizing accumulations, members report on their decisions to transfer or deny to non-members certain classes of weapons and dual-use technologies. Again unlike COCOM, Wassenaar members may undercut each other's denials.

        In order to enhance transparency in arms transfers, Wassenaar members report semiannually on deliveries to non-members of weapons in categories derived from the UN Register of Conventional Arms.

        In order to promote transparency and like-mindedness, Wassenaar members also report on their transfers to non-members of dual use goods. The Wassenaar Dual Use List comprises a Basic List of controlled technology, on which members semiannually report aggregated license denials. The Basic List is subdivided into a Sensitive List of technologies on which members report individual denials of licenses within 30-60 days. In addition to these individual denials, members also report semiannually aggregated numbers of licenses issued or transfers made. Finally, the Sensitive List is further subdivided into a Very Sensitive List, consisting of technology subject to extreme vigilance in national licensing decisions.

        Although no country is an explicit target of the WA, members are committed to dealing firmly with states whose behavior is a cause for serious concern. There is broad agreement that these states presently are Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea. Wassenaar members deal with these "countries of concern" by preventing, through shared national policies of restraint, their acquisition of armaments and sensitive dual use goods and technologies for military end-use.

       Wassenaar also provides a forum for discussing security and conventional weapons nonproliferation issues that do not fall within one of the other, more established nonproliferation regimes. Among other topics, Wassenaar has addressed Sudan, North Korea's weapons production programs Iran's conventional arms procurement objectives, arms flows to areas of conflict in Africa, and the situation in Kosovo. At the December 1996 Plenary meeting, members issued a public statement confirming that they do not transfer arms or ammunition to Afghanistan. In 1997, they indicated that they would exercise maximum restraint regarding arms transfers to Central Africa. Members discussed Small Arms/Light Weapons and man-portable Surface-to-Air missiles (MANPADS) in 1999, with a view to developing common export guidelines for the latter. At the 1999 Plenary meeting, members also agreed to increase their reporting of conventional weapons.

        In 2000 the U.S. will continue its efforts to develop MANPADS guidelines and strengthen dual-use reporting, and will begin discussions of an International Arms Sales Code of Conduct.

        WA meetings are held in Vienna, where the Arrangement has established a small secretariat. Plenary meetings are held at least once a year. The Plenary has established a General Working Group, an Expert Group, and a Licensing and Enforcement Officers subgroup, which meet periodically.

The 33 Wassenaar Arrangement members are:

Argentina Australia
Austria Belgium
Bulgaria Canada
Czech Republic Denmark
Finland France
Germany Greece
Hungary Ireland
Italy Japan
Luxembourg Netherlands
New Zealand Norway
Poland Portugal
Republic of Korea Romania
Russia Slovakia
Spain Sweden
Switzerland Turkey
Ukraine United Kingdom
United States




Semiannual reporting on deliveries to non-members of conventional weapons in the following categories:


TIER ONE  Basic List of Dual Use Goods and Technologies

TIER TWO  Sensitive List

SUBSET OF TIER TWO  Very Sensitive List

[end of file]

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Bureau of Nonproliferation
Department of State